How To Get Smell Out Of Suede Couch

Nobody likes a smelly couch regardless of the fabric it’s made out of, and while fabrics like suede can be challenging, you can learn how to get smell out of suede couch using this guide in no time.

Get smells out of a suede couch by using natural solutions like baking soda, vinegar, or activated charcoal. Vacuuming and washing the sofa cover regularly also helps to keep odors away.

Why Does My Suede Couch Stink?

Lots of everyday things can cause a suede couch to absorb the scent and start to smell. Some big offenders include:

  • Cigar, pipe, or cigarette smoke
  • Moisture or overall dampness and humidity
  • Cleaning chemicals, even dry cleaning chemicals
  • Body odors
  • Pet fur or urine
  • Cooking odors, if the couch is located near the kitchen or dining room
  • Musty odors, mold, or mildew
  • Other scents that suede can absorb

Remember to try to keep the suede fabric dry at all times. Steam cleaning should usually be avoided when it comes to suede.

Get the Smell Out of Your Suede Couch

Your first go-to instinct may be to grab a room fragrance spray or to light a candle.

But, these options will only mask the smell and not tackle the root cause of the unpleasant aroma. Also, many candles and air fresheners or Febreze-type sprays contain harmful chemicals that will only add to the already stinky problem.

Cleaning and Maintenance for Suede

Of course, if the couch is never given a chance to absorb a bad smell in the first place, you will not have to exert a lot of effort in getting the stink out. To avoid the couch taking on bad aromas, quickly tend to any spills or stains. Never allow them to sit for long.

Sometimes the couch arrives new with a chemical odor from the manufacturing process. It’s important to get this odor out since it could contain harmful chemicals that it is emitting into the air.

Make sure the couch is located in an area of the house that has plenty of fresh air and moving air. If you have a screened-in porch, this is a great place to air out a suede couch.

Or, put box fans in the windows or ceiling fans to pull air out and around the area. If fresh air is flowing over the couch frequently, damp and bad smells cannot stay long.

At least once a month, wash the suede cover on the couch being careful to follow the washing instructions on the manufacturer’s tag.

Before you attempt any cleaning method, make sure the fabric can handle it.

If you look at the couch’s manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, there are symbols that indicate how to clean the specific sofa. If you cannot find the instructions, look for a tag on the sofa to indicate how to properly clean it.

The main couch fabric cleaning symbols are:

  • W – Water can be used to clean the sofa
  • WS – A solvent-based cleaner and water can be used to clean the sofa
  • S – water is strictly not allowed, not even in the form of a solvent-based cleaner
  • X – Do not use water or water solvents on the sofa, meaning vacuuming is the preferred cleaning option

Provided the tag instructions allow for a W or a WS cleaning method, try these alternative cleaning methods to keep the smell out of your suede sofa:

Baking Soda

Sprinkle baking soda over the sofa to soak up any wet dirt. Spread a light layer across the suede sofa.

Let it sit for a couple of minutes to allow it to absorb as much of the smell, dirt, debris, and moisture as possible. Vacuum it up. Baking soda can also be used to clean carpets as well, and even other surfaces like marble!


Make sure the manufacturer’s tag allows for cleaning with a solvent. This should be indicated by a WS marking. Vinegar contains anti-bacterial properties and is able to deodorize effectively, which is why we recommend it for so many different applications.

Combine equal parts of white vinegar with water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto the suede couch being careful not to get it too wet. Use a nylon bristle brush or a specially designed brush to be used on suede. Gently rub in the vinegar mixture.

Activated Charcoal

Even if your couch is strictly dry-cleanable, indicated with an X on the manufacturer’s tag, this activated charcoal method will work since it doesn’t actually come into contact with the couch fabric.

Activated charcoal may not be a product you have on hand sitting around the house. But, it is a great odor remover.

Put some activated charcoal in a sealed cloth bag, and place the bag in the corner of your house near the couch. It’s important to not put the charcoal directly onto the suede.

The activated charcoal will absorb foul odors and also pull excess water from the air.

Other odor absorbers that can be used in the same way as activated charcoal include charcoal briquettes or coffee grounds. A small bowl filled with white vinegar works well for absorbing odors too. Just make sure it doesn’t spill onto the couch.

Also, keep in mind that if you use coffee grounds in a cloth bag near the couch, it might absorb the original foul smell but will then take on the aroma of the coffee grounds.

Rubbing Alcohol

While using water-based solutions is not recommended for suede if you are trying to get mildew, moldy, or musty smell out, mix equal parts rubbing alcohol with water. Dab it onto the mold or mildew spots with a white cloth.

Do not soak the cloth or the couch. When done, thoroughly air out and dry the couch. If moisture became trapped in the cushions unzip the cover, and stuff them with newspaper balls to help absorb the smell.

Let the newspaper stay inside the cushions for a couple of days before removing them.


Whatever cleaning method you try to get the odor out of your suede couch, follow up with a good and thorough vacuuming.

It helps to warm up the suede first in the sunlight or open air to loosen the dirt or debris.

Recommended Cleaning Tools and Supplies

Using the right cleaning tools and supplies will help a great deal in making the process of getting the odor out of the suede couch easier.

A couple of recommended cleaning tools and supplies include using gloves and having a suede brush on hand ready to use.

A Word of Warning About Suede

Keep in mind that suede couches do not tolerate harsh chemicals well. It’s best to clean them by using a natural method without moisture. Certainly, never douse a suede couch with water.

Another thing to be cautious about is to always test any liquid-based cleaning method on an inconspicuous area of the couch first before using it on the entire sofa to make sure it doesn’t discolor the upholstery.

Final Thoughts

While suede couches are luxurious to have, they can be challenging to clean especially when they have trapped an unpleasant odor. Get the smell out of your suede couch by using natural cleaning methods that do not use water or harsh chemicals.